Chile
Región de Arica y Parinacota

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  • Day15

    Chilean highlands

    January 18 in Chile

    It took a little convincing from Jeff, but we took an excursion into the Chilean Highlands yesterday. My hesitation came from the fact that it was a 3 hour ride each way to an elevation of 12,000 feet. Now come on, we’ve all seen those pictures of buses dropping off roads in South America, but I must admit that it was a pretty decent road. That certainly did not take away from the drama of the incredible landscape.
    This area of Chile is just south of the border from Peru and the Bolivian border is just to the east - Chile is skinny like a chili pepper! This region has a population density of 1 person per 30 square kilometers and that includes the city of Arica which is 160,000. In other words, it is pretty desolate. By the way, the second largest town is population 1,000. It is also the second driest populated place on earth at 1/2 millimeter of rain per year-that isn’t even what we would call a trace!
    In 1868, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck the area killing 70,000 people. Between the earthquake and the ensuing 2 tsunami waves (the second one was 90’ high), the city was literally reduced to rubble, the waves then washing everything away, including any remaining foundations.
    We saw some fabulous geoglyths that are about 170’ tall and we’re done between 100BC and 1500AD. There is very little know about why they were done, but they have found around 17,000 of them throughout this region.
    As we were driving into the Andes mountains on a 2 lane road, passing other vehicles in our bus, our guide mentioned that they experience earthquakes here about once per week! It took everything I had not to ask if the last one was yesterday or a week ago.
    We drove through an incredibly dry valley that was followed by a more lush area that looked up at 2 snow-capped dormant Taapaca volcanoes. The town of Putre, founded in 1580, lies in a shallow valley at about here at 12,000’ of elevation. There’s not too much air to breathe here!
    We had a wonderful lunch at the Canta Verde which served Pebre which is the Chilean version of what we would call Pico de Gallo. Jeff enjoyed it more than everyone else and they brought him an additional plate of it! They use it as a condiment for soups, meat and bread. Also, I was searching for a bathroom and was excited to recall my high school Spanish class to say “Donde esta el bano?” What a thrill - I was speaking fluent Spanish!
    We have 2 sea days before arriving in Valparaiso, Chile for some Chilean wine-tasting. Our captain has informed us that the waves are building and there will be some “pitching and groaning” tomorrow. Never a dull moment!
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  • Day151

    C'est le jour J! Départ à 3h du matin... 1h30 de route jusqu'au point de départ. Au programme : 6h de montée pour 3 kms et 1200m de dénivelés (de 5100m aux fameux 6300m). On espère y arriver!

    Pour rendre les choses encore plus difficiles nous avançons sur du sable volcanique avec quelques endroits rocailleux tout de même... Sur le chemin nous passons également entre des "penitentes" (sorte de bloc de glace de 30cm mais qui peuvent atteindre 2m au mois de Juin). Ils donnent au paysage un relief magnifique! Et tout au long de la montée nous avons un paysage superbe avec le Pomerape (montagne d'à côté), le Sajama au loin, la vallée chilienne d'un côté et les plaines boliviennes de l'autre.

    On attaque la rando avec notre guide Rodrigo à 5h à la frontale. Ça pèle mais on est bien équipés. Vers 6h on assiste au lever du soleil derrière la montagne Sajama, splendide! La montée se passe sans encombre jusqu'à 5800m, altitude à laquelle Greg commence à avoir un léger mal de tête. Passés les 6000m on se transforme en zombie : dur de trouver l'oxygène et chaque pas nous paraît impossible. A certains moments nous n'y croyons même plus... mais nous y voilà : le cratère à 6300m!!! On l'a fait!

    Mais c'est pas la grande forme : gros maux de tête et nausées pour tous les deux. Du coup on ne s'attarde pas là haut. Rodrigo nous conseille de vite redescendre pour calmer tout ça. On est tellement fatigués que même la descente sur le sable fin nous paraît compliquée. 1h30 et quelques chutes plus tard nous voilà enfin à la voiture avec Gary, le fils d'Ana et Mario, qui nous attend. Il nous faudra quelques heures pour être remis à 100% de cette aventure mais on est fiers de nous! On a réussi notre challenge!
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  • Day53

    Colcas

    November 21, 2017 in Chile

    A bit further in the valley, we stopped at the Colcas. These are underground holes that are were used to store grains and food items that the people from the valley used to get here to trade with the people from the highlands. They used holes in the ground lined with stones and them coated with clay. This used to work as a natural refrigerator and preserve the food for longer. One can still find preserved food items inside the Colcas.Read more

  • Day54

    Sunset at Chinchorro beach

    November 22, 2017 in Chile

    We sat at the beach till the sunset. After that, we walked 2 kms back to our hostel.
    At the hostel we got wifi again and did some research on what options we could have. We found 2 more car rentals on Google maps. We decided to check them out the next morning. If the prices were fine, we would rent the vehicles immediately.
    We also found out that Iquique, about 350 kms from here had lot more car rentals so if we didn't find a good option at the 2 rental companies in Arica, we would take the bus to Iquique and try our luck there with the car rentals.Read more

  • Day53

    Back in Arica

    November 21, 2017 in Chile

    We were back in Arica around 3 pm. After having our lunch, we went to the city to check out the car rental options.
    We checked with Europcar, they had very good prices but no vehicles available for another 3-4 days.
    The wickedcampers turned out be just a pickup and drop point. They informed us to check their website. The prices there were too high. By now, it was late in the evening so we couldn't check anywhere else and the tourism office too was closed by now. We just decided to hang around in the city center and have some cakes before returning back to the hostel.Read more

  • Day54

    At the Chinchorro beach

    November 22, 2017 in Chile

    We walked the 2 kms from the town center to the Chinchorro beach. On the way, we passed the protected area for the turtles. We didn't see any turtles but saw 2 dead sea lion carcasses.
    At the beach, I sat out enjoying the waves and the soothing rhythm of the waves while Hristo decided to go for a swim.

  • Day52

    Mobile phone registration

    November 20, 2017 in Chile

    We decided to go to the mobile phone registration office to get our phones registered to work in Chile. We weren't sure if that would work but one of the agents on one of the mobile operator shops told us about it. The building was right next to the coast. The office was on the 5th floor. There we found out that they had closed for the day and would open at 9 am the next day. It was 2:30 pm, so we decided to have some food and plan our next few days.Read more

  • Day53

    Cerro Sagrado

    November 21, 2017 in Chile

    Cerro Sagrado or the Sacred Hill is a place of worship in the valley. There are figures of plants, condors, serpents and other animals indicating link to spirituality and fertility. There's also a figure of Panchamama (Mother Earth) getting the offerings of the fruits and plants. This was an active place from 1450 - 1535 AD.
    The area also has Inca time ruins that had mummies, all pointing towards the Sacred Hill indicating a link towards this hill as a scared place.
    These geoglyphs are made by additive techniques by adding stones to form the figures.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Región de Arica y Parinacota, Region de Arica y Parinacota, Arica y Parinacota

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